The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), the largest global provider of wine, spirits and sake qualifications, has announced that it has finally received approval from the Chinese government to resume its operation in mainland China after a year of suspension.
In a press release, WSET said it has received official approval to set up a Representative Office as an overseas non-government organization (ONGO) and can therefore resume its business operations in China.
The office is headed by former head of Wine Australia’s Greater China department, Willa Yang, and WSET courses and exams will restart following the Chinese New Year holiday period in February.
WSET had to suspend business in mainland China at the end of January 2021 due to its overseas NGO status, as it confirmed with us before. China introduced a new foreign NGO management law, which came into effect in January 2017, with much tighter scrutiny on NGO’s operations in mainland China.
In the newly revised NGO management law, foreign NGOs are required to have an official Chinese sponsor or host organization, and have to be registered with Ministry of Public Security before they can conduct any work inside mainland China.
Over the last 11 months, WSET has worked hard to meet the requirements for resuming business and has remained committed to the Chinese market, which is one of its top markets.
Supporting its return to business in the Chinese Mainland, WSET also opened its new office Shanghai, adding to WSET’s global network of offices in London, Hong Kong SAR, and West Hartford (Connecticut, USA).
Yang has been appointed as Chief Representative to head up its operations in China. A seasoned China hand, she has a rich breadth of experience having previously held leadership roles at Wine Australia’s China Office and the Australian Trade Commission as well as running her own wine consultancy business for several years.
Commenting on WSET’s return to business in the Chinese Mainland, Chief Executive Ian Harris said: “I am delighted that we are now officially approved to resume business in China and, through our network of course providers, we will be able to start offering our qualifications to students once more.
“I am extremely grateful to our 100 plus Chinese course providers and their students who have supported us over the last 11 months. WSET has a history of over 15 years of empowering drinks professionals and enthusiasts in China through wine, spirits and sake education. My team and I are excited to be able to continue our educational mission.”
Speaking of her new role, Yang commented: “It is my great honour to join the WSET team. We enter 2022 with excitement and anticipation of great things to come. China’s wine and spirit category has been in continual growth and the demand for our qualifications has never been greater. I look forward to working with our team in China, as well as our course providers, to lead the way in wine and spirits education in 2022 and beyond.”
China for years ranked as one of WSET’s biggest markets for wine, spirits and sake education. It is ranked as the education provider’s 4th biggest market in the 2020-2021 academic year and it has over 170 approved program providers in the country.
Headquartered in London, WSET was founded in 1969 and is regarded as one of the world’s leading providers of wine, spirits and sake education.